|Evan Parker, Barry Guy and Paul Lytton at the Vortex
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2014. All Rights Reserved
Evan Parker / Barry Guy / Paul Lytton
(Vortex, 10 April 2014; review and drawing by Geoff Winston)
Evan Parker, Barry Guy and Paul Lytton are three improvising masters who have tirelessly refined their musical language and the breadth of their dialogues over nigh on forty-five years. They convened at the Vortex for a relatively rare trio run-out, celebrating Evan Parker’s seventieth birthday, with a full house in attendance.
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In the drive to expand their expressive armouries, each member of the trio makes strenuous demands on himself and the others, without a hint of becoming jaded or reverting to formulae. Their combined efforts have the accuracy of a rapid reaction force – crossed with the fluency and spontaneity of a Brazilian football front line.
Parker fluttered and rolled the tenor tones with a compulsive, inventive streak and an intensity born of his rigorous practice regimen, about which he has said, ‘I’ll keep … refining and rejecting stuff I’ve done a thousand times before it is the basis for things I’ve never done before.’
Guy’s athletic, quick-fire movements took him all over the bass in his search for elusive, unexpected nuances which he drew out with unfettered virtuosity, utilising beaters, sticks and bow, lightly finger-tapping strings, and cordoning off sections of the fingerboard to create a distinctive voice which hopped from withdrawn introversion to an all-out shout as a stick was dragged skidding down the strings.
Lytton, totally absorbed, revealed beauty and rhythmic cadences in the meetings of found objects and the conventional drum kit. An empty coffee packet, a strand of wire, a metal paint scraper – all found their places in an ever-changing contact sport with skins and metal.
There were genuine surprises for even the seasoned devotee, notably, when at full tilt, the trio applied an instant tourniquet halt, the product of an invisible telepathic signal, to cut to an unfathomable silence that gradually bled to a minimal drumbeat, a muted bass utterance and a wisp of melody before Parker let rip with a Coltrane-inspired power surge.
In a rare solo spell, Parker shaped the final phase of the two sets, as he vied with Guy’s bass harmonics in a compelling, cyclical construct that grew exponentially with an urgency that carried all in its wake.
After the trio’s ultimate number, combining rampant rhythms, repetitions and no-hesitation, thinking on their feet, the Vortex’s Oliver Weindling presented Evan with an iced birthday cake topped with a single candle. Evan expressed joyous surprise, but also wondered whether seventy candles would have needed him to deploy his (renowned) circular breathing.
Evan Parker: tenor saxophone
Barry Guy: double bass
Paul Lytton: drums, percussion
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